Nico reckons he’s one of the lucky ones.
Born in South Africa, Nico and his family moved to Western Australia in 2008 and in 2011 crossed the Nullarbor to settle in Bendigo.
A little over a year ago, Nico was forced to leave home because “things weren’t working out with my step dad”.
So, at just 17 and studying VCE at Bendigo Senior Secondary College, he says “I was lucky to welcomed into a loving family” environment. “They were really kind to me.”
After finishing his exams, Nico says he was “lucky” to be offered a place in the Sidney Myer Haven – our medium-term housing and support program in Flora Hill, Bendigo, for young people who are homeless or in housing crisis.
Not long after this “luckily” he was offered an apprenticeship with builder Nicholas Arthur.
Luck had nothing to do with it. Nico is a bright, motivated young man with loads of ambition and plans for the future.
“I’d like to get a deposit together for a home by the time I’ve finished my apprenticeship,” Nico said.
When Nico isn’t building housing frames for one of our long-term partners, JG King Homes, he’s making the most of the social curriculum on offer through the Sidney Myer Haven program.
“I really like the cooking classes and the fitness program,” Nico said.
The health and fitness program is made possible through our collaboration with the AFL’s not-for-profit Ladder program.
Nico plays with the SMH netball team the Hell Cats and has recently joined the Bagshot Cricket Club “although my batting is rubbish”, and the FeelGood Fitness gym.
“I’m in training for the Murray Bridge triathlon which is on next March.”
Nico credits the Sidney Myer Haven program with his achievements to date.
“I wouldn’t have got this far without this place,” he said. “Gabby and Sue are awesome.”
He’s even started a micro business on Facebook offering to assemble flat packs. “I know it sounds strange, but I actually like putting flat packs together.”
In his down time, Nico can be found shooting hoops with other residents or weeding the vegetable garden.
“I’ve also got a cleaning routine worked out. Doing a bit everyday has made things a lot easier.”
“It’s pretty great we (mostly) get along with each other. People are really friendly and most of us just want to get on with our lives and get ahead.”
And in recent months he’s been patching things up with his family. “Yeah, things are getting better, but this is my home.”
Even though you don’t need it. Good luck Nico!